SUZUKA, Japan — Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe brushed off suggestions that sabotage was behind Lewis Hamilton’s engine failure at last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was leading on lap 41 of 56 at the Sepang International Circuit when his engine blew, handing the race lead and ultimately victory to Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo.
The frustrated Hamilton was furious after the Malaysian race, and hinted at perhaps something more than bad luck.
“Someone doesn’t want me to win this year, but I won’t give up. I will keep pushing,” Hamilton said on Sunday.
With five races left in the season, it will be difficult for Hamilton to make up the deficit to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who holds a 23-point lead in the championship race.
Speaking after Friday’s practice session at the Japanese Grand Prix, Lowe said that wasn’t what Hamilton was suggesting.
“I can’t agree with you that the driver hinted there was sabotage,” Lowe said when asked whether such a thing would be possible. “Lewis has been very clear, certainly with us, that that’s completely out of the question.”
Lowe admitted that the team had let Hamilton down but said any suggestion of sabotage was wrong.
“We’ve had other failures in the year that are very unfortunate and if we were good enough to arrange such sabotage we wouldn’t have any failures,” Lowe said. “It’s a very tough business, Formula One. The engineering is operating right at the boundary of performance and things do go wrong.”
Rosberg has finished second behind Hamilton in Suzuka the last two years. He was fastest in Friday’s practice session, edging Hamilton but only seven hundredths of a second.
A win on Sunday would move the German driver a step closer to his first championship while delivering a serious blow to Hamilton’s chances for a third consecutive title.